A MAN CALLED OVE

Ove is pronounced OH-veh. ¬†A gentle adaptation of a gentle story about a lonely curmudgeon who’s softened by the younger family that moves in next door. (If you’re flashing to “St. Vincent,” I’m right there with you.) Frothy, sentimental, predictable, but…soothing.
FF=0

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JASON BOURNE

Have you seen any of Matt Damon’s other Jason Bourne films? Good. Then you don’t need to see this one. It should have been subtitled “Deja Vu.”
FF=3

I AM NOT A SERIAL KILLER

Many years ago I was given an ARC of Dan Wells’s first novel for a blurb and described it as “un-put-downable.” The film, unfortunately, is not so well paced. The setup: small-town teenager John Wayne Cleaver knows he has all the makings of a serial killer and organizes his life to avoid opportunities to act on his impulses. But then a serial killer starts murdering people in his town. Max Records’s portrayal of John is haunting. It’s a well-done adaptation of an intriguing story. Just be patient.
FF=1

IN ORDER OF DISAPPEARANCE

At the suggestion of David Schow, I streamed this Norwegian revenge flick through Netflix. Think “Death Wish” crossed with “Fargo” and “Yojimbo” and you’ve got the idea. The Norwegian snowscapes are as daunting as they are awe inspiring. (There’s something majestic about those snow plows sending up endless plumes of white.) Good cast, mostly strangers but so few of them survive it doesn’t matter. It’s all done with a bit of a wink; I even LOL’d in a couple of spots.
FF=0

THE MAGNIFICENT 7 (2016)

Okay, the first question is “Why?” The 1960 version, from its iconic cast to its rousing score, is nearly perfect. The remake ups the violence and creates a more politically acceptable villain (i.e., a white businessman instead of a Mexican bandito). Sarsgaard’s villain is a flat, mustache twirling psycho murderer, whereas Eli Wallach’s Calvera was mostly looking to keep his men fed.

But the worst change is making it personal. The charm of the original was that the 7 were dinosaurs with little call for their skills and looking to earn a few bucks. When Calvera captures them, he doesn’t kill them because he’s afraid all their friends will cross the border looking for revenge. The sad irony here is that these guys have no friends up north. All they have are the bonds forged with each other as they worked with the peasants on defense. And lo and behold, they’ve become invested in the village. The remake gives Denzel’s Chisolm a personal reason to gather the 7, which strikes a false note at the end.
Wisely, they kept some of the iconic lines, like, “I have been offered a lot for my work, but never everything.” And “If God didn’t want them sheared, he would not have made them sheep.”

Vincent D’Onofrio (not one of my fave actors, as a rule) is a hoot here; he and Pratt look like they’re enjoying themselves.
FF=1

THE SECRET LIFE OF PETS

A good-natured, fun, sometimes funny animal buddy flick with excellent backgrounds and animation. That said, except for Kevin Hart as Snowball, the voice characterizations are meh (and why Albert Brooks gets an “and” is beyond me). I was wondering why this film grossed close to $1B (most of it overseas) and then realized: Pets are a universal common denominator, and the animators nailed pet behaviors. Everyone seeing this film recognized their pet in one of the characters.
FF=0

SUICIDE SQUAD

I thought this would be more fun. And funnier. All the good lines are in the trailer. For the most part it’s grim laced with more grim and sprinkled with stupid. Stick me in front of a well-done film and I’ll buy into the most preposterous scenario. But I couldn’t buy any of this. Even Harley got old. And I hated Leto’s Joker. Heath Ledger’s layered portrayal set the standard and all Jokers must be measured against his.
FF=2.